Expanding testing and treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) would free up many livers for transplantations into people without the disease. Publishing their findings in the American Journal of Managed Care, researchers developed a model that factored in data on trends in chronic liver disease as well as models related to the allocation of liver transplants in order to estimate how systematic screening for and on-request treatment of hep C would affect liver transplant demand.

The researchers found that systematic HCV screening and treatment would lead to a decline in the rate of hep C–related end-stage liver disease and avert the transplantation of an estimated 10,500 livers into people with HCV between 2015 and 2035. They estimated that 7,300 of these livers would go to people on transplant waiting lists who do not have hep C. The remaining 3,200 livers would go to people who were not tested for hep C or who had the virus and failed existing treatments.

“The inadequate supply of liver donors in the United States is a real problem,” Anupam Jena, MD, PhD, an associate professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and internist at Massachusetts General Hospital who led the research, said in a press release. “People die every day of liver disease because a suitable organ never materializes. By curing patients of HCV before they become sick enough to need a new liver, new HCV drugs shorten the waiting lists and make more livers available to patients with other illnesses.”

The research was funded by AbbVie, a major manufacturer of hep C drugs.

To read the press release, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.